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   Re: [xml-dev] XML/RDF

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By the way.

Mike Champion wrote:
>>To me, it is just the union of 
>>the localized domains with links between them where possible. If there 
>>is value in the localized domains, why would the integration of them 
>>into a Web of links be problematic?
> Nothing that I know of offhand.  Can it cope with inconsistencY
> of assertions? 

"Semantic Web researchers, in contrast, accept that paradoxes and 
unanswerable questions are a price that must be paid to achieve 
versatility. We make the language for the rules as expressive as needed 
to allow the Web to reason as widely as desired. This philosophy is 
similar to that of the conventional Web: early in the Web's development, 
detractors pointed out that it could never be a well-organized library; 
without a central database and tree structure, one would never be sure 
of finding everything."

> Can it actually work without an
> "ontology authority" to maintain trust and consistency across domains?

"Of course, this is not the end of the story, because two databases may 
use different identifiers for what is in fact the same concept, such as 
zip code. A program that wants to compare or combine information across 
the two databases has to know that these two terms are being used to 
mean the same thing. Ideally, the program must have a way to discover 
such common meanings for whatever databases it encounters.

A solution to this problem is provided by the third basic component of 
the Semantic Web, collections of information called ontologies."

"An important facet of agents' functioning will be the exchange of 
"proofs" written in the Semantic Web's unifying language (the language 
that expresses logical inferences made using rules and information such 
as those specified by ontologies). For example, suppose Ms. Cook's 
contact information has been located by an online service, and to your 
great surprise it places her in Johannesburg. Naturally, you want to 
check this, so your computer asks the service for a proof of its answer, 
which it promptly provides by translating its internal reasoning into 
the Semantic Web's unifying language. An inference engine in your 
computer readily verifies that this Ms. Cook indeed matches the one you 
were seeking, and it can show you the relevant Web pages if you still 
have doubts."


> Will the spammers, pornographers, and assorted slimeballs co-opt it
> for their purposes?  

"Another vital feature will be digital signatures, which are encrypted 
blocks of data that computers and agents can use to verify that the 
attached information has been provided by a specific trusted source. You 
want to be quite sure that a statement sent to your accounting program 
that you owe money to an online retailer is not a forgery generated by 
the computer-savvy teenager next door. Agents should be skeptical of 
assertions that they read on the Semantic Web until they have checked 
the sources of information. (We wish more people would learn to do this 
on the Web as it is!) "


> ... Can it work well enough to evolve if only partially
> implemented (like the Web) or does its value only kick in only when
> everyone implements it (see http://www.shirky.com/writings/evolve.html)?

"Human endeavor is caught in an eternal tension between the 
effectiveness of small groups acting independently and the need to mesh 
with the wider community. A small group can innovate rapidly and 
efficiently, but this produces a subculture whose concepts are not 
understood by others. Coordinating actions across a large group, 
however, is painfully slow and takes an enormous amount of 
communication. The world works across the spectrum between these 
extremes, with a tendency to start small—from the personal idea—and move 
toward a wider understanding over time."


It is quite possible that the Semantic Web technologies will be found to 
have some fatal flaw, but it won't because the inventors neglected to 
consider obvious questions like these.

  Paul Prescod


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